I don't know if this happens to you, but I get this ALL THE TIME during the holiday season.
I teach comics and cartooning, which means that most of the people I encounter in the workplace are aware that I'm pretty geek-literate in all sorts of quirky areas, and I get questions all the time. But never more than this time of year.
Basically, it boils down to this: I have no idea what to get (significant person) who's a big fan of (some nerd thing)... do you have any ideas?
I sympathize. Truly, I do. We are hell to shop for. Not so much because our interests are obscure, but because we tend to treat ourselves before anyone else can get a shot in.
Here's a typical conversation from this week.
"Okay, I know you're into this stuff, I have a question."
"I gotta get a present for a friend of mine, he loves comics and stuff. He really likes Robin. And Nightwing."
"Dick Grayson, you mean... the original Robin."
"Huh? How many are there?"
"Oh, God, you so don't want to know."
"Oh, well, okay. Anyway, he likes Robin. The Dick Grayson one. I was thinking maybe if there's a book..."
"There are lots of books. Not too many that are just Dick Grayson, though. There's hardcover collections of the forties Robin solo series. That would be a nice gift if he doesn't already have them, and they're way cheap on Amazon right now."
"I don't know..."
"There's a big paperback collection of the solo Robin stories from the sixties and seventies, too. Chances are he's probably got that one, though, if he's a Dick Grayson Robin guy."
"I don't know. Are there Nightwing books? I mean, Dick Grayson ones?"
"Believe it or not, there are probably more Nightwing books than there are Robin books.... at least, Robin books that are about Dick Grayson."
"Really? That's fucked up."
"I think so too, actually."
"Anyway. It's gotta be Dick Grayson. I know that much for sure."
"Um...well, if he's a Dick Grayson guy, he might like the Titans. There's a book called The Judas Contract, that's the story of how Dick actually gave up being Robin and became Nightwing."
"No, no, I know he has that one. He likes the Titans."
"Hmp. Well, what about the cartoons? Would he like DVDs? The Titans cartoon? Or, hey, what about Young Justice?"
"What's Young Justice? He's never said anything about that. That might be good."
"It's a cartoon... a lot like the Titans one, but a little more serious. This is more like a junior version of the Justice League. The sidekicks form their own team. It's actually kind of like what the Titans started as, back in the day."
"Oh yeah! That's it! And you say there's DVDs?"
"Uh-huh. It only ran a couple of years. With Black Friday sales, you probably could get him both seasons for under thirty dollars."
"Awesome! Thanks so much!"Twenty-four hours later:
"What the hell was the name of that thing you were telling me about yesterday? The Dick Grayson DVD thing?"
"Young Justice. What, did you strike out?"
"....oh. Oh, hell. I thought it was called Junior Justice League. I looked all over. No wonder I couldn't find it."
"Let me use your computer for a second. Here you go. Right there. On Amazon. This one, the set of three. They did that asinine thing where they broke it up into 'volumes,' but this is the whole season, I think... no, wait, there's one more set. But these two together should cover it. That's what you want."
"Oh, hey, thank you. Are there Young Justice books? Maybe I--"
"You'd probably have to dig. I'm not sure what's out there in paperback. There's two different print versions and one of them is a lot more slapstick, and there's no Dick Grayson in that one. The other one is a direct tie-in to the cartoon, I don't know a lot about it. I'd start with the DVDs and see how those work out for you. Save something for next year."
"Okay. Anyway, he should really like that." Pause. "I can't believe you just carry all this stuff in your head."
Snort. "Batman stuff is easy. Captain Triumph or the Black Hood or Dagar the Invincible, that I probably would have to look up."
"It'd just bore you... honestly, the fact that I had those names so handy is kind of weird in itself."
She considered it for a moment, and then gave me a great big smile. "Well, we're glad to have your weirdness here."
And she left.
Considering that very same weirdness used to get me beaten up more or less weekly when I was a kid, I was happy to take the win.
I just hope to God her friend hasn't already torrented the thing.... or at least has the grace to lie about it if he has. We're hell to shop for but at least most of us know it.
See you next week.